Public toilets lacking soap, paper

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12:00am

One in 10 public washrooms do not have soap dispensers installed, officials revealed yesterday.

Government figures show that of the 3,509 public toilets in Hong Kong, 368 do not have sensor-activated or manual soap dispensers and 556 do not have electric hand dryers.

'So many toilets lack the basic hygienic facilities and so many people use these public toilets,' lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip said. 'The government has a huge budget surplus. Why can't it spend more on toilet facilities?'

Secretary for Food and Welfare York Chow Yat-ngok said the government would provide basic facilities such as soap and towels in toilets as soon as possible. 'Public toilets are now also installed with [hand] sanitisers now that Hong Kong is facing the swine flu threat,' he said.

At present, toilets under Food Environment Hygiene Department management that were not equipped with sensor-activated taps, manually operated soap dispensers or electric hand dryers were mainly flushing toilets (connected to a sewerage system) converted from aqua privies (a toilet system flushing into an underground septic tank) or aqua privies yet to be converted.

Lawmaker Patrick Lau Sau-shing asked why toilet paper was not available at some toilets. 'This is indeed very inhumane,' he said.

Dr Chow said servicing of public toilets in remote areas was sometimes infrequent and 'some toilet users also have a bad habit of taking toilet paper from public toilets. We are concerned about this'.